It was another LV Christmas show at Symphony Hall on Sunday, and I asked Ansel Barnum to be my sideman on my two songs, partly because he would kick ass with the tunes, and partly because I wanted him to experience the stage and the audience, and to have the audience experience him. It worked on all counts.
I reprized Santa Assassin, my third year in a row doing it, but it works so damn well. Ansel’s blues harp really sold it, and we both got to hear the audience catch on, with some yips of recognition early, and peals of laughter at the end (I’m the new BB King).
It was particularly interesting in that we followed Jimmy Supra’s blues rock band, with Jimmy on harp, solos on guitar, sax, etc. We were backstage wondering how we were going to follow that, but then again, I had confidence that we would actually benefit from the difference. We did. We showed we could fill the house with just two instruments, my voice and a very good song.
Ansel and I agreed that he could do a short harp piece and then launch into Mary Had a Baby, an uptempo gospel tunes. Ansel did a moving and elegant Silent Night on a low pitched D harp, and the audience ate it up and applauded as I kicked in the rhythm guitar underneath his last chord. I was glad I didn’t play behind Ansel’s solo, and the nakedness of his version shown through. We then kicked Mary with strong singing, several fine harp solos and the audience singing the ‘Oh, Lords’. I worked out a great ending with a ‘false’ ending and we held the last chord for a beautifully long space as the audience cheered. And we hit the crunch at the end. It was rock and roll heaven.
It was a superb set, executed well with humor, drive, personality and musicianship. We got several nice comments from folks, as well as Ansel getting some nice strokes from fellow musicians who had not heard him before.
Well designed and well played.